What happened to 10 famous paintings that were spoiled by vandals
Paintings of famous (and sometimes not very masters) sometimes have a magical effect on people. And it happens that this is not only admiration and enthusiasm, but extreme reactions. So, patients with nervous breakdowns who “reviewed” the statue of Michelangelo “David” regularly come to the Florence hospital. And there are more than a few cases when museum visitors tried to destroy works of art. And the reasons for the vandals were very different.
1. Venus with a mirror. Diego Velazquez
In 1914, suffragist Mary Richardson cut the painting Venus with a Mirror when it was exhibited at the National Gallery in London. Five cuts made by a knife were found in the picture. Richardson protested against the arrest of Emmeline Pankhurst and was soon nicknamed the Mary the Butcher by the press. Richardson claimed that she held a protest rally, not only to raise awareness of Pankhurst’s arrest, but also to object to “how visitors stare at the picture for days on end.”
The canvas depicts a naked woman with her back to the artist. Its fifth point is drawn so carefully that it looks like a “three-dimensional image.” The woman in the picture looks at the viewer from the mirror, as if she knows that she is being watched, and this gives the viewer the feeling that the woman wants to be admired. Since then, the picture has been skillfully restored, and now traces of damage are almost impossible to consider.
2. The fall of the Damned. Peter Paul Rubens
The Fall of the Damned was written by Rubens in 1620. The canvas depicts the fall of rebel angels from heaven to hell. This is a huge picture measuring more than 2.9 meters by 2.2 meters, which depicts many mortal and rebellious angels of varying degrees of nakedness falling from the sky into the pit of fire below. In 1959, the picture was doused with acid. Vandal claimed that he did not destroy the work of art directly, because the acid “frees a person from the work of destruction” (some have noticed that it is a bit like a gun frees a person from the job of shooting in the head).
It is not known why he decided to destroy The Fall of the Damned, but the restorers had to try to recreate the work using the original sketches of Rubens. However, despite all attempts at restoration, the acid dissolved the paint and caused permanent damage to part of the work of art.
3. Mona Lisa. Leonardo da Vinci
Mona Lisa has been targeted by vandals many times. The painting was damaged twice in 1956 – once when the vandal splashed acid into the painting, and again when someone threw a stone at it. More recently, a Russian woman who had just been denied French citizenship threw a glass into the picture.
However, the leadership of the Louvre, obviously, learned from past experience. The most expensive painting in the world is protected by bulletproof glass. The glass, which was empty, crashed on the glass without harm.
4. Ivan the Terrible kills his son. Ilya Repin
“Ivan the Terrible and his son Ivan on November 16, 1581” (also known as “Ivan the Terrible kills his son”) is one of the most famous and controversial Russian paintings. It depicts the infamous king embracing a dying son lying in his arms, while sadness and horror are clearly visible on the king’s face. In May 2018, a man attacked this work of art and went to look at the picture after he drank a fair amount of vodka. He picked up one of the metal posts used to hold the fence from the ropes, then hit him with a picture, breaking through the protective glass and tearing the canvas.
Fortunately, the column did not touch the main part of the picture. It is not clear why the vandal chose this particular picture for destruction. Perhaps this is due to the fact that this work has long been a cause of disagreement in Russia, when many nationalists disputed the generally accepted interpretation of Tsar Ivan IV Vasilyevich. Interestingly, more than a century ago, the artist himself had to restore his picture after it was cut in 1913. Now experts from the gallery say that a work of art can be restored, but it will take years.
5. Lullaby. Vincent Van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh started writing Lullaby a few days before he cut off his ear. He completed the picture after returning from the hospital. The picture shows a woman sitting in a rocking chair.